Non-Permissibility of Tawassul to the Dead
Another claim put forward by the Salafiyyah is that, on the basis of evidences tawassul to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) during his lifetime is acceptable but after his death there is lack of evidence to support the view that tawassul was ever made to him.
The contemporary Sunni scholar Dr. Ramadan Buti of the University of Damascus rejects this viewpoint of the Wahhabiyyah sect. He says tawassul to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and things pertaining to him is permissible, whether during his lifetime or after his death, since things or items related to him are not necessarily linked to his lifetime such as tabarruk (sacred relics) or tawassul, as is confirmed by Sahih al-Bukhari, Chapter on the hair of the Prophet (PBUH)
No Muslim would ever attribute to other than the One and Only God the effect of anything related to the person of the Prophet (PBUH) during his life or after his death. If a person were to hold the opposite view that this effect is independent in itself, he would be considered an infidel.
Accordingly, the tabarruk of the Prophet (PBUH) and tawassul to him and to things related to him, does not mean attributing the blessed effect to his personal influence independent of God, but is an indication of the fact that as the Last Divine-Sent Messenger he is the ‘Best of Creation’ and is the ‘Mercy of Allah’ for the entire creation. Therefore tawassul to him is a means of gaining proximity to Allah and His infinite Mercy for mankind. It was in this sense that the companions sought tawassul to the Prophet and things related to him. Likewise, it is recommended to seek intercession (shafa’at) through the pious persons such as the Ahl-ul-Bayt (A.S) of the Prophet (PBUH).
Sunni authorities including Shawkani, Ibn Qudamah Hanbali, San’ani and others are unanimous on this issue as was made clear concerning the request for rain. In view of these facts, Dr. Buti calls it a strange confusion by the Wahhabiyyah to make difference between the lifetime of the Prophet and after his death.
To quote Professor Hassan bin ‘Ali al-Saqqaf, polytheism (shirk) is polytheism either in this world or in the next, whether or not the person through whom people are seeking tawassul to God, is alive. But, he adds, without the least doubt tawassul to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is supported by the general rules of permissibility, and includes both his lifetime and after his death as well as in the Hereafter.
Tawassul to the Dead is Addressing the Non-Existent
Muhammad bin ‘Abd al-Wahhab writes: Tawassul to a person who is alive has no objection, but tawassul to the dead is to address the non-existent and is an absurd, ugly and despised act.
- This statement is a clear violation of Allah’s words in the Holy Qur’an
“Reckon not those who are slain in the way of Allah, to be dead nay! They are alive and are being sustained by their Lord.” (3:169)
- It is also in contradiction to the saying of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) as recorded in Sahih al-Bukhari, Sahih Muslim and all other authoritative (Sihah) Sunni works. After the Battle of Badr the Prophet (PBUH) stood near the well of the same name and addressed the dead with ayah 46 of Surah al-A’raf. When some of his companions objected that how could the dead hear him, the Prophet (PBUH) replied: “You are not more hearing than them.”
- It is in opposition to the statements of Islamic intellectuals such as al-Ghazzali who writes in Ihya’ ‘Ulum al-Din: “Some people think death as extinction and state of non-existent, and those who hold such beliefs have no faith and actually mean to deny Allah and the Hereafter.”
Hafiz al-Nawawi in al-Majmu’ fi Sharh al-Muhadhdhab which says that while standing beside the tombs of Prophets, especially the shrine of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), it is recommended to request them to supplicate to God for our needs, since they are alive and as the Holy Qur’an says:
“are being sustained by their Lord.” (3:169)
Shaykh Khalil Ahmad Saharanpuri who states his fatwa and that of 75 ‘ulama’ of different Islamic lands as follows: In our view, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is alive in his holy tomb and his life is similar to worldly life but without its duties.
‘Allamah Jalal al-Din Suyuti writes in his book Anba’ al-Azkiya’ bi-Hayat al-Anbiya’ on the authority of Shaykh Taqi al-Din Subki that the proof of the life of Prophets and martyrs in their graves is the prayer offered by Prophet Moses in his own tomb as mentioned in a hadith. In this regard Shaykh Shams al-Islam Muhammad Qasim has written a booklet titled Abi Hayat.
- Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab in answer to Shaykh Ja’far Najafi said that seeking help from the dead is an absurd act. But how could this be called shirk since there is no connection between absurdity and polytheism? And if tawassul with fellow humans is considered shirk, then how could the difference between tawassul to the living and tawassul to the dead, be ascertained?
- Here Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab has contradicted his own opinion, since as we saw earlier in this article he believed that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is alive in his tomb and said that this state of life of the Prophet (PBUH) is superior than the life of the martyrs. Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab also said that the Prophet (PBUH) hears the voice of those who send blessings on him.
- Farid Wajdi mentions in his encyclopedia, In our era God has opened two of the windows of knowledge for us and the proof of this two windows confirms beyond an iota of doubt that man has a soul which without the need of the physical body can lead its own independent life.
From the 19th century onwards the science of spiritism or contacts with the souls of the departed has been discovered and developed upon by the world’s researchers after precise study and experiments in this regard. In the US and Europe, the summoning of the souls of the departed is part of the world of science.
The information which modern scientists have discovered after witnessing the summoning of souls is yet another instance of the fact that the human being has an independent soul outside the physical body that does not perish with death. The connection of the souls of the departed with the living is the finest proof of the independence and immortality of the soul, and most of its capability concerning many works is with the permission of Almighty God.
The souls of the righteous and pious persons which have been released from the mortal world have acquired superior perception and consciousness and in their ascendant journey are free of the limits of time and space. They penetrate with ease the skies and the depths of the oceans to observe the grandeur of God’s creation.
Blocking of Means (Sadd-i Dhara’i’)
Some of the Wahhabi ‘ulama’ such as Dr. Muhammad bin Sa’d Suway’ir who is one of the deputies of Shaykh Bin Baz, say that tawassul and tabarruk are permissible for ‘ulama’ who are cognizant of the essence of faith, but this is forbidden for the common people, who are prone to drift towards polytheism and who might gradually start believing in the personal influence of the Prophet (PBUH) and saints in the granting of boons and prevention of the detrimental things. Therefore, it is obligatory to stop them from tawassul and tabarruk in the name of Blocking of Means.
Ayatullah Wa’iz-Zadeh rejecting the Wahhabi theory against tawassul says, when the permissibility or recommendation for this act has been confirmed with rational proof, it is not permissible to prohibit Tawassul for such unfounded fears that the ignorant might give it the colour of polytheism. If such was the case, the Prophet (PBUH) himself would have prohibited people as a precaution from seeking blessing, visiting the graves or kissing the sacred black stone (Hajar al-Aswad) at the holy Kaba. On the contrary, a judicious measure for checking possible deviation is for the ‘ulama’ to exercise greater control.